Monday, 26 July 2010

5 Questions the Americans Should Answer (Part 2)

Continuing from the previous post, in the spirit of clearing up this affair which the American’s have entered into.  Here are 3 more questions that the American’s should answer about their role in the Lockerbie bombing and their part in the conviction of Abdelbasset Ali Mohamed Megrahi…

3) Did the FBI Fabricate evidence surrounding the fragment of explosive timer?
A fragment of circuit board (pictured right) was found by the police in the neck of a shirt collected from the luggage from the downed plane. The fragment was marked “cloth, charred”, before being overwritten with the word “debris”. No explanation was given for this. After spending time being examined at the Royal Armament Research & Development Establishment in Kent, the fragment was sent to the FBI, where it was examined by Tom Thurman. Thurman found that the fragment resembled a part of a MST-13 – a type of Swiss made timer used by Lybia, particularly as there appeared to be printed letters on the fragment “MEBQ”. This was translated as MEBO, the name of a company which makes MST-13 timers.

So why fabricate such conclusive evidence? Well the investigation was heading towards Syria and Iran being the powers behind the bombing, which would be problematic given that Thurman invited Dumfries & Galloway’s finest 8 weeks before Iraq invaded Kuwait, and any action against Iraq would require the consent of Iraq’s neighbours, namely Iran & Syria. Also one of the selling points was that the MST-13 timers were accurate. Any terrorist would have set the timer to go off then the plane was over the sea. The time of the explosion, 38 minutes into the flight makes it likely that the timer was a barometric timer – also known as an Ice-cube timer. Coincidentally, one of Thurman’s predecessors alleged that Thurman circumvented established procedures and protocols in the assignment of evidence to examiners. Essentially Thurman was accused of fabricating evidence. The investigation took place, and Thurman was cleared in April 1997. Thurman left the FBI shortly afterwards, and rather strange for a man described by Time magazine as a legend, was not called to give evidence at Camp Zeist.

Not that the FBI were alone in being economical with the actualite. The CIA leaked the original story linking Libya to the Bombing in December 1990, the Independent picked it up. The follow-up story gave the source as “The former head of the CIA’s counter terrorism section… Vince Cannistraro”. Cannistraro had worked with Oliver North, and was supposed to have been an expert in circulating information damaging to the Libyan government.

4) Why are Abdul Giaka and Tony Gauci in recipt of money from the CIA?
Abdul Giaka was a “source” for the CIA who maintained vehicles for the Libyan intelligence organisation (JSO), and also worked for Libyan Arab Airlines. One of his colleagues was Lamin Fhimah, who Giaka told the CIA kept explosives in his desk drawer. He also identified a senior JSO officer (Megrahi) as being in Luqa Airport, Malta, on 7th December to his CIA handlers. This information did not become relevant until the fragment emerged. Giaka left Malta in July 1991 on an American warship, and was given a regular salary. During the trial, the judges described Giaka’s evidence as “at best grossly exaggerated, at worst simply untrue”. So apart from the above (and we have to question whether this is true), why was he paid, and what for?

Tony Gauci was more of a central figure. The clothing which was found to be in the same suitcase as the bomb was traced back to Mary’s House, the shop in Silima which Tony owned. In theory Tony sold clothes to the Lockebie bomber, this fact alone led to 11 years worth of interviews. Tony was first shown pictures of terrorists with links to the PFLP-GC. Tony said that Mohammed Salem was “someone who looks like the man but is too young by 20 years”. He was shown a picture of Abu Taib – “I thought than this was the man who bought the clothes from me. His hair and face were very similar”. When he was shown a picture of Megrahi in February 1991 he said that the photo resembled the man he had sold the clothes to “though he would have been 10 years older”, yet at the trial Gauci picked Megrahi out of an identification parade as the man he sold the clothes from. This evidence seemed to be the key evidence, yet should have been taken apart for Gauci too had dollar signs in his eyes.

Gauci said that he was alone in the shop when the man came into the shop, as his brother had gone home to watch football, the man came and bought an umbrella as it was raining outside. As he was leaving the man put up the umbrella and walked down the road to pick up a taxi. His Brother said to the police that the date in question was the 23 November, as two games were played in the afternoon, one of which was defiantly the UEFA Cup tie between Dynamo Dresden and AS Roma. Paul Gauci was not called to give evidence. Possibly because it would be revealed that Megrahi was not in Malta on that date, but Talb was in Malta in late October and had a ticket that would have got him back to Malta in late November. Talb was also in possession of other clothes bought in Malta when his flat was raided after the bombing.

5) Why would American senators (?) say to families of the victims at a meeting at the American Embassy in February 1990 “Your government and our government know exactly what happened at Lockerbie. But they are not going to tell you”?
A group of British relatives went for a meeting with seven members of the President’s commission on Aviation security and terrorism. One of those there was Martin Cadman who remembered that after the meeting broke up and they were moving towards the door, they started talking to two members of the commission; Calman thinks that they might have been senators. One of them came away with the above astonishing quote.

The issues surrounding the Lockerbie bombing are complex and labyrinthine. I’m not holding out any hope for answers, but the above questions show how two faced the Americans have been in their claims requesting justice. However there is one question that Cameron should answer. Are you going to set up an enquiry into the Lockerbie bombing, or are you going to follow the lead of Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown, and snub this request?

(sources for these pieces: BBC, Washington Post, "Lockerbie: The Flight From Justice" by Paul Foot)

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